New England Patriots: Vincent Jackson

Getting to know the Buccaneers

September, 17, 2013
It was roughly a month ago that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled north to partake in joint practices with the Patriots, a get-together sparked by the close relationship between Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano, who is in his second season as Bucs head coach.

The teams did the same thing a preseason ago down in Tampa Bay, though the circumstances were slightly different in that they did not meet in the regular season.

They do this year, as the Bucs, looking to get their first win of the season, will once again travel north to take on the Patriots.

It’s been a long time since the Buccaneers played a regular-season game in Foxborough (2005), and even longer since they scored a point (2000).

Both teams have become popular landing spots for Rutgers players, a storyline that has been well-documented previously. Schiano was formerly the head coach there, while the Patriots have numerous Scarlet Knights on their roster, too.

So while the teams may be familiar with each other, here’s a primer for those needing to catch up on the Buccaneers.

Record: (0-2, last in NFC South)
Head coach: Greg Schiano (second season)
Offensive coordinator: Mike Sullivan
Defensive coordinator: Bill Sheridan

1. RB Doug Martin. Aptly nicknamed the “Muscle Hamster,” Martin has been everything the Bucs hoped for when they selected him at the tail end of the first round of last year’s draft. An adept pass catcher, Martin is a workhorse running back with the power to run between the tackles and the speed to break free when he gets a step on a defender. The Bucs will lean heavily on Martin behind their massive offensive line, a tough test for the Patriots D.

2. QB Josh Freeman. There’s been a report that Freeman will request a trade before this year’s deadline (he’s apparently had some friction with Schiano in recent weeks), but he denied that report on Sunday and for now remains the team’s starter under center. Freeman has an abundance of physical tools, with the arm, talent and frame to be a big-time quarterback, but he’s yet to fully translate those into dependability on the field.

3. WR Vincent Jackson. When the Bucs and Patriots conducted joint practices, one of our first observations was the size of Jackson, who is listed at 6-5 and 230 pounds. He plays every bit as big, overwhelming opposing defenses with his frame and working both the middle and perimeter of the field. He’s an excellent red zone target and a terror to tackle.

1. CB Darrelle Revis. It’s rare for the best defensive player in football -- when healthy -- to become available on the trade market, but that’s what happened this offseason when the Jets fielded offers for Revis. The Bucs pounced on the opportunity, then gave Revis a six-year contract worth up to $16 million per season. A rare combination of size, reactive athleticism and ball skills, Revis started off strong for the Bucs, breaking up two passes in his debut and adding another in Week 2.

2. LB Lavonte David. He made headlines in Week 1 for a silly penalty that propelled the Jets into field goal range and allowed them to kick the game-winner as the clock expired, but David is a tremendous talent who has extensive range. A second-round pick last season, David has the coverage skills and instincts to effectively play on all three downs for Tampa Bay. In just 18 pro games, David already has 153 tackles. He’s up to 2.5 sacks and an interception this season.

3. S Mark Barron/S Dashon Goldson. There may not be a better safety duo in football, as Goldson, a 2012 first-team All-Pro, signed with the Bucs this offseason to pair with their top pick from last year, Barron. Goldson has the build of a linebacker and while Barron isn’t quite as big. Each will deliver crunching hits when the opportunity presents itself. Barron was all over the field in Week 2, registering 13 tackles to go along with a half sack. The duo can ably defend the run and the pass, and with Revis blanketing one side of the field, this secondary on the whole is an excellent group. Late Monday, Goldson was suspended by the NFL for one game due to a helmet-to-helmet hit in Week 2, though Goldson will appeal the suspension, which could make him available this Sunday.

Other notes: End-of-game situations have bugged the Bucs, as they’ve lost each of their first two outings on last-second field goals. ... The Bucs paid big money to guard Carl Nicks last offseason, though he’s yet to play a game this year because of a MRSA staph infection in his toe. He appears closer to a return. ... The Bucs are on their third kicker already, as starter Connor Barth suffered an offseason injury, while his replacement, Lawrence Tynes, also is out with a MRSA staph infection. ... Gerald McCoy, the third pick in the 2010 NFL draft, has evolved into one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league.

Latest on Branch, Jackson rumors

October, 8, 2010
Ever since Randy Moss was dealt to the Vikings, rumors about who might fill the void have been making the rounds. The two most prominent names that have come to the fore as trade possibilities have been Chargers wideout Vincent Jackson and Seahawks receiver Deion Branch.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, for one, isn't buying the rumored interest in Jackson.

"Vincent Jackson is not headed to New England," Schefter said in a Friday morning interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "You look at it and you say it makes sense, it's just not going to happen."

While Jackson, who like Moss is a deep threat as a receiver, would be a good fit, skill-wise, his acquisition would not make sense for the Patriots from a philosophical standpoint, according to Schefter.

"Vincent Jackson, You're going to have to spend roughly $50 million [on a contract extension] -- $9 [million], $10 million a year on a wide receiver that's one strike away from a yearlong suspension," he said. "On top of that, San Diego is adamant that it get back a second- and third-round pick, and New England has done a tremendous job stockpiling picks, I don't think is in the business of looking to unload those picks for a premium-price player when we may have all these picks in a draft that is incredibly rich in talent and in which there may be a rookie cap and you get basically these guys under contract at a bargain rate."

As for Branch, the latest report in the Boston Globe claims Tom Brady has been in touch with the former Patriots wideout about possibly returning to New England, where he began his career.

Schefter said he could envision that one as a more realistic possibility.

"That's a different story. That is something that ultimately could wind up happening. We'll see," Schefter said. "It's up to both sides. Let's also say this: There's been talk about that for the last few years. And that's not to say that it won't happen now, because it could. ... That one I'm not ruling out."

Don't expect Jackson; how about Branch?

October, 7, 2010

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was on SportsCenter on Thursday morning talking about what might be next for the Patriots now that Randy Moss is off to Minnesota (video above).

Might New England, which has plenty of draft picks to spare, make a deal for disgruntled Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson, who could potentially be the downfield threat the Patriots are losing in Moss?

“Vincent Jackson is not going to wind up as a New England Patriot, you can put that speculation to rest right now,” Schefter said, throwing water on that possibility.

Might the Patriots try to swing a trade with the Seahawks to bring receiver Deion Branch back to New England? There’s buzz on Twitter among reporters from both Seattle and New England about that possibility.

ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is currently investigating. Stay tuned.